Installing an Ampersand compiler

The following instructions presume that you are familiar with the basics of your own computer.

The easy way: Use a prebuilt executable file

The easiest way is by use of available executables. We release frequently. Have a look at our latest release. For Windows users, there is a file called ampersand.exe in the release. Put it on your disk on a location of your choice, for example /Ampersand/bin/. Make sure your $PATH environment variable contains this location, so the command "ampersand" is known on the command line. That's all. Note that double-clickingampersand.exewill not work, because it is a command line tool.

Now you can compile and check your Ampersand scripts. Most likely, however, you want to generate a functional specification or a prototype you will need some other software as well.

Other software you will need

  1. In order to generate PDF files that contain your functional specification, you need a LaTeX compiler. On Windows, we recommend MiKTeX1. On Linux and MacOS, we recommend texlive.
  2. All graphical output is created using GraphViz. You need to install it. Make sure dot and neato are in your path (set the $PATH environment variable if necessary). Also, if you compile it from source, make sure you install it with gts support.
  3. In order to run the generated prototype, you need Apache (or another web server) with SQL and PHP v 7.0 or higher. In Windows, a practical way is to install XAMPP

    • You must create an account in SQL for localhost, that has a user called ampersand with a password ampersand, with rights to create/read/update/delete databases as well as their contents. If you use phpmyadmin this could look like:
    • The webserver must run on localhost . By default you will use port 80, but you could change that if required. See the documentation of you webserver.
  4. You need to install Composer, because at runtime, the prototype has dependencies of libraries . Composer will take care of that.

The less easy way: Installing from Source

If there is no executable for your operating system, or if you prefer to build an Ampersand compiler yourself, follow these steps:

  1. Install stack, the haskell tool stack. instructions are here
  2. use git to clone the latest version of Ampersand. The code can be found at github. (the master branch is our stable branch)
  3. Open a command line terminal, and go to the directory that contains the file named ampersand.cabal
  4. Then, close your command line terminal and reopen another one (this helps to reload the environment variables that the stack installation may have added or modified),
  5. Let stack install everything you need to compile (see the Notes below!) by executing: $ stack setup
  6. Build the Ampersand.exe file (see the Notes below!) by executing: $ stack install

This will build an Ampersand-compiler named "ampersand.exe" and install it into your path.


  1. Do not use Hackage to get ampersand. It does not contain all non-haskell files. (See issue #213)
  2. stack memory usage may require other applications to be terminated (e.g. on 8GB Windows systems). If stack terminates prematurely, re-invoking the command will pick-up where it stopped.
  3. stack may terminate on various errors (See this issue), e.g. that it doesn't have permission to access or rename files. Again, if stack terminates prematurely, re-invoking the command will pick-up where it stopped. Users have mentioned having to restart stack several times before it would finally complete building Ampersand.exe.


1. If you haven't run LaTeX for a while, and Ampersand causes LaTeX errors, these errors may be caused by Ampersand using an updated version of LaTeX. run the update wizard to get the two in sync again.

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